Sochi Olympics bring African swine fever threat to Britain

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The British government and the National Pig Association warn about a potential threat to Britain’s pork industry: African swine fever.

An outbreak of African swine fever was reported in Lithuania in late-January after a hunted wild boar tested positive to the disease. Lithuania imposed a temporary ban on the movement of live pigs out of the affected areas on fears “the virus could spread to local farms.” Read, “African swine fever hits Lithuania.”

In response to the outbreak, both Russia and Belarus banned the importation of pigs from Lithuania. However, officials in Britain aren’t taking any chances and have announced they will be paying special attention to passengers returning from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to prevent African swine fever from crossing into the United Kingdom.

Though Russia banned Lithuanian pork products that had not been processed thermally, some shops in Russia were discovered to have been selling meat products contaminated with the virus. African swine fever can survive in raw, cured, cooked and even frozen meats for months, and if any infected meat found its way onto a pork operation, it would cause havoc in Britain’s pig industry.

"We—that is the pig industry and Government—must do all we can to ensure African swine fever, or any other exotic disease, does not get into the United Kingdom,” National Pig Association chairman Richard Longthorp said.

He added, "the loss of exports valued at £350m would be devastating to the pig industry and a loss to United Kingdom trade. It would undermine all the great work that the pig industry and Defra have put into developing export markets for British pork and high-performance breeding pigs."

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